On Not Letting Fears Become Reality

It is with a mix of emotions that I enter this new year — relief about moving forward, fear and anxiety about how I plan to spend this year. In less than two months, I’m moving to New York with my partner, who will start graduate school. I feel daunted by this move; the list of things we have to do to prepare ourselves to move across the country is a small cloud that hangs above me. I've heard that moving is the second most traumatic life experience after death, so I’m letting myself grieve and feel whatever I feel so that I can move on from it.

This morning, I wrote in my journal, Why do I feel so sad? Usually, my sadness is really fear — I find myself mourning something I haven’t yet lost. So what is it that I’m afraid of losing?

I've moved all over the place; I've lived in more than a dozen homes in the past eight years. Each move I've made has been in pursuit of some kind of freedom, has been an attempt to get closer to "the real me," — to the life I'm supposed to be living. Each move has served it's purpose; I have gotten closer to what feels like a fully-realized me and a more authentic way of being in the world.  But moving with a partner? For a partner?  That's uncharted territory.

A few years ago, I would have laughed Eartha Kitt style if you’d asked me if I’d ever pack up my life and move across the country for a relationship. I would have self-righteously explained that any relationship that asks me to compromise my own purpose is no relationship I want to be a part of.

So why am I doing it now?  I’ll be honest with you, I don’t actually want to move to New York. As in: if my partner weren’t moving there, I absolutely wouldn’t be either. But I'm doing it because I know that I don’t want to be without her. That I feel so powerful in this partnership. Capable. Safe. I feel like we've got a lifetime ahead of us, and I truly can't imagine the next two years of my life without her by my side.  I'm madly in love with the life we’re building together — with the dreams we share. I don't want to give it up.

Deep in my heart, I know it's the right move for us. Then, of course, my fear pops up and asks, "But is it the right move for you?" After living in Brooklyn for a year and then practically stumbling over myself to get the hell out, I said that New York is a place to live only if you have a good reason to be there. 

But what's a "good reason?" I blame feminist movements and capitalism for my self-judgement, for my shame and sadness around this move. Certainly partnership IS reason enough, but there are some stories I'm holding onto that are trying to tell me otherwise. 

I'm afraid that moving means I'm putting my own dreams on hold. I'm afraid of not holding myself accountable to my purpose. I'm afraid of choosing a small life for myself in the process of helping my partner expand her life. Of course, this is all my ego. This is what Nichiren Buddhists refer to as "fundamental darkness" — the inner-workings of my mind which keep me bound to my unhappiness. The sadness I feel now is clear evidence of hopelessness; my own mind telling the story of my failure before I have a chance to speak for myself.

The truth is, I'm afraid of the me that spent years holding tight to excuses — a me that has stood in my own way more than anyone or anything else ever has. I'm afraid that I'll get to New York and slip back into that old self; that work and the demands of city life will —  as they have in the past — take priority and stand in the way of the big, delicious life I so badly want to claim as my own.

I know that I have to be intentional about not letting my fears turn into my reality. I need to spend some time clarifying the life I want so that I can be courageous about saying no to things that don't get me there. 

Jamila Reddy